Papers Please paired with Rasputin IPA

A woman approaches your border checkpoint. She wants entry into your country, but lacks the valid paperwork. Her husband was just allowed in and she begs you to turn a blind eye and let her in. Most of you would let her in, but what if your income as a border agent was the only thing keeping your family alive? Remember, you get deducted for every error, so letting this woman in could keep you from buying food for your family or keeping the heat on. What do you do? These are the moral questions Papers Please makes you answer as you embark on its three hour journey.

Papers Please is a bizarre but beautiful game. You are a border patrol agent in the Soviet Union of the 1980s (Russia is never explicitly stated but it’s heavily implied). You have been recently assigned as the border patrol agent of a new checkpoint. You must examine entrants’ passports and determine whether they are fit for entry into the country. Papers Please begins simply enough; if they have a valid entry license you stamp them through or reject them, but it gradually develops into a complex experience. Each turn adds extra rules to the regulations each immigrant must meet before entering the country. You’ll easily get wrapped up in trying to keep track of each minor rule and law that the immigrant must meet before letting them in.

And you have to ensure they follow the rules. Any error you make deducts money from your daily wages, and those wages are the only thing keeping your family alive. You are the only source of income for your family, and are forced to make hard choices in this sad communist world. Do you pay for your son’s medicine or keep the heat on? These gut wrenching questions consume your playthrough. And you can’t just ignore your family because if any of them die due to your negligence, you lose.

Though it may not seem like it based on the above paragraphs, Papers Please is a fun and fantastic game. Analyzing each applicant and reading their paperwork becomes really interesting and challenging. You hold your breath after you stamp the passport hoping the “you failed” message won’t appear after you let them through. Your tiny workspace becomes a point of pride because you make it as efficient as possible to manage your job.

Due to the narrative driven basis of this game, there are multiple endings and each are worth exploring. My favorite is the when the government decides you’re a threat and executes you for no reason. For instance, your son draws a picture for you. You have the option of hanging it on your wall. Three days later, an official appears and demands you remove the painting. I ignored it because who really cares about a painting right? Well, two days later, the official appeared and fired me because of the painting. I laughed out loud because it was so ludicrous, but it perfectly captures the paranoia and struggles of Soviet Russia.

I paired an Old Rasputin IPA with this because it seemed extraordinarily fitting. Historically, Rasputin inadvertently created the communist country that Papers Please is based on. Honestly, if you don’t know who Rasputin is please read this, he’s incredibly fascinating. And like Papers Please, I fully recommend the IPA. It’s dark and bitter and lingers with you, much like Papers Please will. The retro style graphics, soundtrack, and immersive gameplay make Papers Please a must play, and the dark bitter Rasputin stout is quite excellent.

~Ryan Dodd

Broken Age paired with Crash Landed (American Pale Wheat Ale)

Recently, I’ve become more open to narrative-driven stories so when the Narrative Humble Bundle (http://www.bitcultures.com/humble-narrative-bundle-details/) was released I had to pick it up. I decided to start with the one that was most appealing to me: Broken Age, “a timeless coming of age story” following two teenagers—Shay Volta and Vella Tartine. That’s all I knew at first. But I’m a big fan of unconventional narrative structures so this was enough to get me excited.

I’m almost done with the game in its entirety, having logged about 9 hours. But I’ll spare all of you from spoilers… what I can say is this: both characters are brave and curious people trying to break away from the paths set for them. Early into each of their narratives, they must navigate unexpected situations and—as the game continues—their stories relate in surprising ways. And so, I decided to pair this game with Begyle Brewing Company’s Crash Landed.

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Broken Age is a point-and-click adventure game; players can move around the screen, talk to non-playable characters, and interact with a variety of objects (i.e. read things, gain items, open doors, etc). Players can easily switch between playing through Vella and Shay’s stories. The key to solving the game’s puzzles is often a matter of using the right items at the right time, or combining items in interesting ways.

I started playing the game as Vella Tartine because, as a fellow woman of color, I was immediately drawn to her story. Vella lives in a town called Sugar Bunting. Once comprised of warriors (and formerly known as Steel Bunting), Sugar Bunting is one of many towns that has a Maiden’s Feast every 14 years. This feast is meant to appease the giant creature known as Mog Chothra and this year Vella is one of several maidens chosen to represent the town. But Vella wonders if there are other ways to protect the town from Mog Chothra…

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Meanwhile, Shay Volta lives on the Bossa Nostra spaceship. The ship’s daytime computer acts as Shay’s mother and consistently has several missions to keep Shay busy. But, much to his distaste, the missions are fake, infantile, and repetitive. The nighttime computer acts as Shay’s father who is too busy working outside the ship to be around much. Shay’s “mother” computer reminds him that this is all to keep him safe while they complete Project Dandelion: an effort to escape Shay’s now-dangerous home planet (Loruna) and find him a new home. But Shay longs for real missions outside the juvenile comfort of his ship…

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This is a game that rewards the player’s curiosity and awareness. The more carefully you play the game—interacting with everything you can and being aware of your surroundings—the easier it will be to progress. So depending on your playstyle, the gameplay can be kind of a drag because if you’re not careful, you could end up doing quite a bit of back tracking. Plus some of the puzzles are a bit tedious.

It’s worth noting that this was my first point-and-click game ever and despite the above critiques, I still recommend this game to everyone. I think it’s a great game for people new to the genre or new to videogames in general (http://www.bitcultures.com/how-to-game-with-your-non-gamer-significant-other/). The story is an absolute joy: full of humor, twists, and a charming yet sophisticated art style. Broken Age feels like you’re playing through a really well written children’s book, and I mean that in the best way possible.
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Much like Broken Age, Crash Landed has a lot going on to enjoy. An American Pale Wheat Ale by Begyle Brewing Company, Crash Landed is said to have its hops balanced by a slight sweetness. But for me, what stood out about this beer was its color, viscosity, and aftertaste. The beer has a rich amber color that I’m not used to seeing with wheats. It also had a higher viscosity than other beers of its kind, a quality that I really enjoy. I’m not sure how I feel about the aftertaste; it’s slightly more on the enjoyable side but it’s definitely unique. To me it ends on a sort of bitter twang. The beer’s biggest plot twist *spoilers* is its 7% ABV which is hidden well beneath a multitude of flavors.

Broken Age and Crash Landed is sure to make for a riveting time, so crack open a brew and unfold this story.

 ~Janet Garcia

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